Spring is the best time to enjoy the flowers at the Longwood Gardens. But if stopping to smell the roses makes you itchy and sneezy, you probably have seasonal allergies, meaning your body is reacting negatively to pollen. Below we review everything you need to know about pollen allergies.
What Is Pollen?
Pollen is a fine yellow powder that is the fertilizing agent of flowering plants like trees, grasses and weeds. Pollen is so small and light it can easily be carried by the wind over long distances.
Many people are allergic to pollen, and it is a major contributor to symptoms of hay fever (seasonal allergies). For people with allergies, symptoms tend to be worse on dry, windy days when pollen is in the air, and better after a good rain when the pollen has settled.
What Are Pollen Counts?
Air-sampling devices around the country collect data about how much pollen is in the air 24 hours a day. This data is available online at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunotherapy’s National Allergy Bureau, though you can also find information about pollen counts by looking at your local forecast.
Research shows that pollen counts are worsening thanks to climate change. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, warmer temperatures across the U.S. have caused pollen seasons to be 11-27 days longer from 1995 to 2011. In addition, warmer temperatures result in higher concentrations of pollen, making allergy season even worse for those with hay fever.
How to Limit Pollen Exposure
While it’s not possible to avoid pollen entirely, there are ways to reduce exposure. Follow our tips below:
- Track daily pollen counts. When pollen counts are high like on dry, windy days, stay indoors and keep your windows shut.
- Shower and change after spending time outdoors. It’s important to remove allergens from your body to prevent spreading them around your home.
- Delegate outside chores to those without allergies. If you experience bad symptoms when mowing the lawn or pulling leaves, consider hiring someone else to do the job.
- Use your air conditioning. This can help remove allergens from the air in your home.
- Invest in a portable HEPA filter. These high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters also purify the air and are a good option for those without AC.
For more information about preventing allergy symptoms or to schedule an appointment with an expert allergist, call Pinnacle ENT Associates today.